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Alternet is hosting a piece by Peter Montague which promises a sort of expose on what the US government is really doing about global warming.  

One would have to imagine the "global warming non-issue" to be the real secret of the 2012 elections, with one side claiming that global warming "isn't happening," and the other side claiming that it is happening but then proposing "it won't pass Congress" as the non-solution.  So it would be only natural to expect the real action on global warming to be occurring outside of public view.  Montague's piece claims that this action is the "Plan of Action" centered around the Global CCS Institute:

Bush-Cheney in 2005 endorsed a plan to bail us out of this mess and we're still following their script. Back then, the G8 nations, led by the U.S., formally adopted a "Plan of Action." In it, the G8 (Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the U.S.) committed to building a global infrastructure for "carbon capture and storage" (CCS), which means burying carbon dioxide (CO2) in the ground. Now, seven years later, that infrastructure is being built worldwide. The centerpiece is the Global CCS Institute created in 2009.
Now, the Montague piece focuses largely upon the impact of the carbon capture and storage technology (as well it should), but the piece itself contains a section on how the technology is to be disseminated, which contains a number of interesting links.  Check out, for instance, this press release by various "environmentalist" organizations.  Note especially this quote:
“Given the world!s current and projected reliance on fossil fuels, CCS is a critical
mitigation technology that can enable faster and deeper emissions reductions,”
said George Peridas of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “While
sustainable solutions – such as energy efficiency and renewable energy – should
be at the forefront, CCS can complement a climate change solutions portfolio
under the right regulatory framework.”
The purpose of environmental organizations, y'know, is not to save the Earth, but rather to create "climate change solutions portfolios" which climate change solutions careerists can use to pursue the real goal -- saving capitalism so they can continue their social climbing activities.  Note also the discussion of "sustainable solutions -- such as energy efficiency and renewable energy."  I have yet to see a promotion of "energy efficiency" that stands a chance against the argument logically laid out by John Bellamy Foster that "energy efficiency" doesn't do anything for the environment as long as we leave the capitalist system in place.  And "renewable energy" will, under capitalism, continue to supplement fossil-fuel burning energy.

Okay, now to the technology, and the alternatives to carbon capture and storage.  As Montague points out:

Burying CO2 in the ground is sometimes called "clean coal" but it's much bigger than just coal. It means capturing CO2 gas from industrial sources like power plants, cement kilns, oil refineries, and garbage incinerators, compressing it into a liquid, and pumping it a mile or more below ground, hoping it will stay there forever. It's a gigantic experiment, with the future of civilization in the balance.
OK, so this addresses PART of fossil fuel burning.  Are we going to put carbon capture and storage technologies on our cars?  Or is the government going to buy us all electric cars and pay for the junking of the fossil-fueled ones we currently drive?

Montague would like to suggest, first off, that "energy efficiency" counts as some sort of solution to the problem, both impending and current, of global warming.  His money quote:

David Goldstein, who won a MacArthur "genius" award, has spelled out the realistic possibilities of efficiency in his book Invisible Energy. Goldstein argues that it would be easy to run the U.S. economy with only half the energy we currently use. Running the economy on only 20 percent of current energy (or even less) would be more difficult, but is doable, Goldstein argues. And he's not alone. (See also Sovacool, 2008.)
Now, I can't claim to have read all of Montague's sources.  But here's the question I'd ask of them: who is going to "run the US economy," and upon what principles is it to be run?  Last I recall, the US economy was run under principles that necessitated "economic growth," and the maximization of "sales," and thus the maximization of the consumption of resources.  If these principles are to be jettisoned, who is going to jettison them?  The US government?  Is the US government going to run the economy?  The businesses are constrained by the profit motive -- they're not going to do it.  The energy businesses are going to spontaneously give up producing fossil fuels?  So we are to have an economy with a set amount of yearly energy consumption, not subject to growth.  Is this going to be a capitalist economy?

At any rate, Montague cites a "letter to Lisa Jackson," head of the EPA, citing a number of technical concerns with carbon capture and storage.  The most important of these concerns appears to me to be the first one in Montague's list:

A CCS industry large enough to make a real difference in global warming would have to be enormous. Burying one-eighth of global CO2 emissions today would require an infrastructure the size of the global petroleum industry.
In short, then, neither the fossil-fuel industry nor the US government is going to create a carbon capture and storage industry capable of making a difference.  Simply put, there are cheaper ways of pretending to do something about global warming.  And that's what's at stake here -- pretending to do something about global warming.

To conclude, Montague lays out this audacious statement:

Congress, President Obama, Big Green, and everyone else chasing a slice of the $45 trillion CCS pie are all betting the future of civilization.
There's a "$45 trillion CCS pie"?  Wow!  I haven't found the reference yet.
-- In conclusion --

Let me go back to my discussion of the "climate change solutions portfolio."  It seems as if the "environmentalists" have all concluded that the solution to our global warming problems is to be social climbers -- create a set of CVs filled with symbolic items that can be loaded onto "climate change solutions portfolios," and hawk those portfolios to prospective employers in the mutual pursuit of climate change solutions careers.  But what if that isn't the solution at all?  What if the solution is something more like the Occupy movement?  As I suggested in the linked diary:

"Green" solutions to infrastructure problems open up the possibility that Occupy will replace the current, dysfunctional society with a new society based upon hope and open to love.  
At any rate, there's a worlowide conference call in a couple of days called "Occupy The Home," which will focus upon creating an opening for Occupy for those who can't go to some prominent public location and live there day and night.  Hear you there?
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (16+ / 0-)

    "I think the Obama campaign would be taking this populist-sounding tack even if Occupy had never happened." -- Paul Street

    by Cassiodorus on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 11:50:50 AM PST

  •  If We Only Sequester Newly Emitted Fossil Carbon (11+ / 0-)

    our grandchildren are still hosed. We've got to be looking at sequestering pretty much every net new molecule since about 1900.

    Nobody's anywhere near the scale of this problem.

    The most deluded community of all is science, which continues passing along data and predictions as though there were someone to act on them.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 11:56:04 AM PST

    •  I think you have the role of the scientific (5+ / 0-)

      community wrong - they SHOULD be dispassionate disseminators of information, that IS their role.

      It is not their failing that their efforts are thwarted elsewhere.

      •  ? (4+ / 0-)

        How on earth can you be a dispassionate communicator of impending disaster?

        Yes, you can gather and report the evidence dispassionately, but when it involves a crisis of this magnitude and you see your reports systematically misrepresented to the detriment of all life on the planet, it would be pratically sociopathic not to care and act.

        Of course the scientists have a role to play in this beyond conducting the science. Who better than they to dispel the lies and expose the liars and champion the solutions?

        This, too, shall pass. Just like the last global ecological cataclysm. C'est la vie, dude. Take a chill pill, recite the serenity prayer, go with the flow and the moderates into that "goodnight".

        by Words In Action on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 01:27:27 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If a scientist becomes a political advocate (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          brasilaaron

          they tend to lose their claim to impartiality.

          Of course, if any opt to go that route, I have no problem with it.

          Just saying, that's not their role .

          •  They stood up against Heartland's misrepresent- (0+ / 0-)

            ations this week and bravo.

            It needs to become a global campaign.

            We can't gamble on climate change and only the scientists have the authority to say what it is, why it is happening, what we need to do and when.

            This, too, shall pass. Just like the last global ecological cataclysm. C'est la vie, dude. Take a chill pill, recite the serenity prayer, go with the flow and the moderates into that "goodnight".

            by Words In Action on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 02:05:04 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  If erroneous information is being put out (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              brasilaaron

              there, sure, scientists should correct it.

              That's different from political advocacy.

              For example if a scientist develops a vaccine that can prevent cancer and somebody then claims the whole idea is bunk because you can't get cancer from infectious agents the scientist should speak out to correct the scientific record.

              OTOH, the scientist really should remain completely agnostic on whether society should adopt the vaccine or not - if society instead opts to die from virus-caused cancer, well that's a decision that's best left up to them.

              •  Huh ... (4+ / 0-)

                Thus, by choosing a scientist one loses the right to be a member of the body politic?  

                Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

                by A Siegel on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 02:41:03 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  No, I explicitly stated they retained that (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  brasilaaron

                  right.

                  But the flip side is that it could taint their career.

                  For example, if a scientist goes to congress and testifies

                  1) global warming is occurring

                  2) it is man-made

                  3) the results are already irreversible and becoming increasingly worse with increasing carbon emissions

                  Those are all facts, there's no problem

                  but at that time he/she should step aside and let society decide what if any action to take.  Otherwise people will begin to wonder (and rightly so) if the testimony on points 1 to 3 were because he or she were receiving funding from Big Oil or Big Solar (or whomever)

                  •  Wouldn't you want engineers and scientists to (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Calamity Jean, alizard, joe shikspack

                    be proposing those solutions based on sceintific judgments of what will work and what is needed?

                    I know I would. I sure as hell don't want to leave it up to industry, the plutocrats, its think tanks, its government or its media. Because that's the alternative if scientists step aside.

                    Adapting a quote from Derrick Jensen to this circumstance:

                    For scientists to predict doom and then passively stand aside to let non-scientists what to do or not to do on a dying planet is a wee bit insufficient.

                    Really, isn't saving the planet the main thing, not decorum?

                    This, too, shall pass. Just like the last global ecological cataclysm. C'est la vie, dude. Take a chill pill, recite the serenity prayer, go with the flow and the moderates into that "goodnight".

                    by Words In Action on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 03:10:39 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  If congress/society decides that something (0+ / 0-)

                      should be done, then it would be completely appropriate for solutions to be solicited from scientists and engineers.  In fact who'd else be able to supply such information?

                      Again, that's not at all what I'm talking about

                      Getting back to the point I first replied to was that the most deluded community of all was the scientific community.

                      I strongly disagreed with that (i.e., my point was that the scientific community was NOT deluded).   To put words in your mouth, I'm not sure you'd disagree with me on that.  So I'm not sure how the whole entiring discussion took off with us seemingly at much greater odds than I suspect we really are.

              •  OK, but in this case, erroneous information IS (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                alizard

                being spread vigorously, every day, by various right-wing organizations. And neither the plutocratic government nor its media have set the record straight.

                During the 2008, it was politcally possible to set this was settled debate. Today, that's more difficult, because the % of the general public that believes there is doubt about climate change has ballooned to over 60% since then. And that has happened while the scientific community either has been largely silent or silenced.

                It is more than time, during this election cycle, not for political reasons but for matters of global security, for the scientific community to set the record straight and then keep it their until we capped emissions and returned to 350 PM.

                This, too, shall pass. Just like the last global ecological cataclysm. C'est la vie, dude. Take a chill pill, recite the serenity prayer, go with the flow and the moderates into that "goodnight".

                by Words In Action on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 03:05:56 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I agree up until the last 6 words . . . (0+ / 0-)

                  IMHO it is not up to the scientific community to advocate capping emissions or setting carbon levels at 350 PPM (I assume you mean PPM?).

                  Just to say what will happen if society doesn't - e.g., Florida will inevitably be completely underwater.  Again IMHO it is not up to the scientific community to make judgement calls like if that would be a good or a bad thing.

                  •  Roadbed guy, that is absurd. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    alizard, Words In Action

                    What you are saying is that the people who know the most about the problem should be barred from advocating solutions.
                       In the case of global warming, oil companies, coal companies and electric utilities have free rein to advocate whatever they want but scientists should shut up?

                    •  No, did you read my post a few posts (0+ / 0-)

                      up?

                      I specifically said that if asked, they should propose solutions.  For example, most technology savvy types I know would say that a massive nuclear power binge is about the only hope to meaningfully reduce emissions in my lifetime.

                      If society doesn't want solutions, why impose them on society?  In fact, why even suggest something devisive like I said in the previous paragraph - that will just piss * everybody * off.

                  •  But 350 PPM is a target established BY scientists. (0+ / 0-)

                    We know it's in that area because we are at 392 and already experiencing a wide range of accelerating effects.

                    What you suggest sounds like diagnosing a fever without prescribing an advisable temperature range and method to address it. Makes no sense. If the scientist has valid information, it should be publicized and promoted to those who can act on it.

                    This, too, shall pass. Just like the last global ecological cataclysm. C'est la vie, dude. Take a chill pill, recite the serenity prayer, go with the flow and the moderates into that "goodnight".

                    by Words In Action on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 11:20:16 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Global Warming this year brought a dramatic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly

    drop in CO2 emissions.

    The reserves of Natural Gas are swollen, and now the price of nat gas is so low that coal mines are shutting down.

  •  What we need is for everyone to have (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus, Words In Action, DawnN

    a carbon cap on what they can emit in a year.  (It should NOT be based on how much you emit already, which benefits the current big polluters.)

  •  Yes, but will my 458 hemi with the glas-packs roar (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus, Words In Action

    down the highway forever more?
    Just kidding. snark. Don't even own one. Don't think they even  made a 458 hemi.

    I'd rather have a buntle afrota-me than a frottle a bunta-me.

    by David54 on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 01:22:20 PM PST

    •  Point well taken. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DawnN

      The hummers and hemis should be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

      This, too, shall pass. Just like the last global ecological cataclysm. C'est la vie, dude. Take a chill pill, recite the serenity prayer, go with the flow and the moderates into that "goodnight".

      by Words In Action on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 01:34:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  SPOT ON. (5+ / 0-)

    As much I would love to simply elect more Democrats, change government policy and watch the threat evaporate, IT AIN"T GONNA HAPPEN. And unlike most other problems, there's no room for compromise. This isn't horseshoes; "leaners" don't count. Mother Earth has responded to lesser, much more gradual increases with mass extinction.

    Maybe that should become a slogan: "What part of PREVENT MASS EXINCTION NOW OR NEVER don't you understand?"

    This, too, shall pass. Just like the last global ecological cataclysm. C'est la vie, dude. Take a chill pill, recite the serenity prayer, go with the flow and the moderates into that "goodnight".

    by Words In Action on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 02:02:10 PM PST

  •  given that most people can't afford the energy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater

    They're purchasing now, Jevons and his paradox can kiss my ass. Unless you think fossil fuels are going to become radically cheaper, or that Americans (and others) wages are going to suddenly rise after three decades of stagnation and decline.

    I get your problem with people who are part of the system. I do--although I don't know why a person shouldn't be able to make a living wage while working for the planet--environmentalists need to eat and pay rent too, you know.  Are too many of these people addicted to six-figure salaries and DC cocktail parties? Sure. But a middle ground btw that and a virtuous and pure unemployment would be nice.

    And even if you don't think anybody should make any money working for the environment, why the hell you waste your time attacking energy efficiency is beyond me.

    Good on ya for finding the sequestration bullshit, though.

    Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 02:21:57 PM PST

    •  Jevon's paradox has been shown to be false (3+ / 0-)

      Joe Romm & ASiegel have done multiple posts that showed that consumption does not increase to make up for efficiency increases. People have tight budgets. However, the diarist's larger point about maximizing profits stands. Profits will always come before everything else in a capitalism-dominated society.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 02:48:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  have to take back democracy (0+ / 0-)

        To save the planet. Because government will not work against the big money, and the big money is OK with destroying the planet, for some reason.

        Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 03:11:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  No, it hasn't. (0+ / 0-)
        Joe Romm & ASiegel have done multiple posts that showed that consumption does not increase to make up for efficiency increases.  
        Efficiency increases allow the capitalist system to expand more readily than it otherwise would.  It has nothing to do with "tight budgets" and everything to do with the sort of resource consumption permitted by better technology.

        "I think the Obama campaign would be taking this populist-sounding tack even if Occupy had never happened." -- Paul Street

        by Cassiodorus on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 03:15:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  consumption by whom? (0+ / 0-)

          Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 11:02:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  That's definitely an interesting debate (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassiodorus

          and I don't think Jevon has in any way been shown to be wrong.

          Sure, if gas is cheap, say goes down to $25/bbl again, no one is going to drive 4x farther - they just don't have the time or energy for that.

          But it will almost surely lead to an SUV resurgence, similar to the Clinton era . . .

          •  It's not really about individual consumption -- (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            joe shikspack

            but rather about the energy consumption of the system as a whole.  If we were to create a society that ran on 50% less energy, then the capitalist system would expand to make up the savings because the technology accompanying increases in energy efficiency would allow a far greater population to consume what energy is available.

            The way to stop consuming fossil energy is to stop producing fossil energy.  Assuming that aggregate consumption will go down when every yuppie has a Prius is not going to work.

            Capitalism doesn't contract when environmental careerists think more efficiency is good for mother Earth; it expands because that's how it works.

            "I think the Obama campaign would be taking this populist-sounding tack even if Occupy had never happened." -- Paul Street

            by Cassiodorus on Mon Feb 20, 2012 at 07:47:00 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree on the big picture point (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Cassiodorus

              Improved energy efficiency will save money which will be spent on various forms of consumption (not just energy consumption). Increasing some of those forms of consumption will increase environmental degradation.

              look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

              by FishOutofWater on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 08:33:09 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  however, having re-read your diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FishOutofWater, Cassiodorus, alizard

    I now understand better your problem with energy efficiency.  You're talking about the difference between a policy being scientifically or technically possible, and the same policy being politically achievable when the government is in the palm of the private sector and the private sector has no intention of ceasing its mad dash toward maximized profit at any cost.

    Being ignored is the difference between being a one percenter and an American.--sweeper

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 02:29:13 PM PST

  •  I knew Peter Montague years ago, (3+ / 0-)

    when he still lived in Albuquerque.  I gave his son Ty one of his first jobs on one of my adobe projects back in the mid 80s.

    I don't think Montague can be lumped in with those in pursuit

    climate change solutions careers
    The man ought to be retired by now; he's older than me.  I'd listen carefully to what he has to say.

    don't always believe what you think

    by claude on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 03:24:09 PM PST

  •  Seems we've already passed the tipping point. (0+ / 0-)

    So, really. recapturing CO2 in the atmosphere is the only way to reverse things -- unless you're in for putting flakes of whatever in the upper atmosphere and blocking light out.

    If Obama doesn't deserve credit for getting Bin Laden because he didn't pull the trigger, Bin Laden doesn't deserve the blame for 9-11 because he didn't fly the planes.

    by Bush Bites on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 08:08:54 PM PST

  •  last numbers I saw on this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus, Roadbed Guy

    was the Harvard study that said the average price of electricity would go up by a factor of 2 or so, given that it takes about 1/3 of the energy using known extraction technology to sequester the rest, and assuming abandoned oil wells or similar structures within a reasonable distance that the CO2 can be pumped into.

    That second assumption is the weak point of the study.

    I've also heard that there is a Canadian family living on the edge of a lake in which the first experiments with underground CO2 storage are being done. And ... the experiments are not going well. The CO2 seems to want to come right back up again.

    I'm guessing that if this stupidity happens for real, we're going to be paying a lot more than 2x the price per Kwh, and a lot of people are going to be killed when storage facilities and pipelines crack sending CO2 into the general environment.

    Peak Oil is NOW! Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 10:14:53 PM PST

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